- The Problem With Juliet – So many of the problematic things people defend as “historically accurate” really aren’t. Sexing up young teenagers is one of them.
Argument: Early teenage sex and marriage were common in Medieval Europe, as in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where the heroine is 13 going on 14. Fictional portrayals, such as Game of Thrones, also give us an accurate glimpse at what sexual and marriage customs might have been like (sex and marriage to very young women was acceptable). In the past old enough to bleed, old enough to breed was the norm.
My answer in brief: Wrong.
- Cover girls: How lipstick, bathing suits, and naked backs discredit women’s fiction – File this under you’ve identified the problem but you’re way off the mark on what caused it. Feminine covers don’t discredit books. Our culture devaluing the feminine is what does it.
Women of letters have been marginalized since the dawn of Western literature. It is nonetheless surprising that this predicament remains so entrenched. In a yearly study VIDA, an organization for women in the literary arts, reliably finds that major publications still carry more male bylines and cover more books authored by men.
Although their impact is unquantifiable, book covers certainly have something to do with this disparity. Marketing affects the way readers of both genders perceive the artistic merits of a book. Stereotypically feminine signifiers— a lipstick tube, a woman’s naked back — can inadvertently disqualify a novel from the world of serious literature.
- I Am Not Your Manic Pixie Bookworm – “Reading is Sexy” is further proof that anything women do can be made about its effect on men’s boners.
It’s the act of reading that gets fetishised, not the reading material itself. It’s enough to date A Girl Who Reads without engaging in exactly what she’s reading. It turns reading into a passive pose — we sit there and look pretty with a book in our hands rather discussing it. Women buy and write more books than men, but the number of female reviewers in publications like the London Review of Books is still shamefully low. Not for nothing does the Manic Pixie Dream Girl normally wear outsized glasses — they don’t fit because these signifiers of intellectualism aren’t really made for her.
- A Graduation to Remember – A California high school invited the Nisei (second-generation Japanese immigrants) who had to leave school because of WWII internment to attend this year’s graduation and get a diploma.
Jean Yamamoto (Class of 1973) spearheaded the project to honor the Nisei at Washington Union, which she compared to a big family.
“We’re honoring the 50 Nisei who went to Washington Union in 1942, but really we’re honoring a whole generation of Nisei all over the state of California who went through the same thing,” she said. “They had to leave their homes, their schools. These Nisei in high school had hopes and dreams just like all of these kids here. Their dreams and hopes took a detour, and I really give them a lot of credit for persevering.”
- When Representation Isn’t Enough: Why Not All of Us Are Proud – Alok (@DarkMatterRage) writes about Pride and how increased visibility and representation doesn’t negate the fact that violence against LGBT people, especially trans women of color, remains high or is increasing in frequency.
This June I want us to think about the disconnect between a television screen and a back alley. I want us to stop only glorifying the success stories without also naming the prevalence of violence. I want us to recognize how representation does not mean rectification. Representation has and continues to distract us from the reality on the ground. The progressive narrative that it’s somehow getting better for LGBTQ people prevents us from recognizing that this narrative is just that: a story, a fiction, a fairy tale. How are we supposed to be proud when the very government that proclaims this month LGBT Pride month is routinely harassing and criminalizing LGBT people of color?
- Harlequin Mills & Boon’s First Black Romance? – Laura Vivanco wonders if Anne Weale’s book Blue Days at Sea was the first black romance published by Mills & Boon.
I can solve this small mystery. Taking its title Blue Days at Sea from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, the book was first published in 1981. I remember because I wrote it. But the couple on the jacket were a cop-out, neither black nor white. A number of readers twigged that the hero and heroine were black and wrote to me about this innovation, none of them disapprovingly.
- The Gary Stu, or Why I’m Not Subscribing to The Mary Sue Anymore – On June 13 geek girl culture site The Mary Sue announced that they were merging with Geekosystem, a general geek culture site, and the more “inclusive” site isn’t looking good.
Since the merger on June 13, the site has gotten worse. While the number of stories covered on a given day has gone up, the quality of the writing and the feminism found in those perspectives has plummeted. Tickle’s article on Google’s new program to train female coders, rather than pointing out how problematic it is that Google is only now addressing this problem, and in a very limited way considering the resources this conglomerate has, makes a point of giving out friendly ally cookies. Another article, also by Tickle, on the fact that the percentage of female game developers has doubled in the last 5 years, is also disappointing. While you’d think that this is an incident that they’d desperately want to cover well to prove to their readers that they actually aren’t eliminating feminism and women’s voices, they fail to do that. Instead, the piece comes off as incredibly condescending and patronizing (the joke about animating women isn’t funny if it’s you they refuse to animate). What happened? Well, male writers took up the pieces that really should have had women’s voices.
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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.